Thursday, November 14, 2013

Protecting the Vulnerable: a Discussion of Legal Reform and Civil Society in China

Prominent Chinese public interest lawyer Guo Jianmei gives lecture at UC Hastings in second installment of East Asian Lecture Series.

The UC Hastings International and Comparative Law Society and the UC Hastings East Asian Legal Studies Program hosted a discussion with Chinese public interest lawyer Ms. Guo Jianmei.

Drawing on her many years of experience as both a public interest lawyer and an NGO pioneer in China, Ms. Guo discussed China’s rapidly growing civil society sector and successes and obstacles in ongoing efforts to promote public interest law in China.  She spoke passionately about her work and the difference that public interest lawyers can make in the lives of women, youth, and others around the country. The discussion took place Monday November 4, 2013 at UC Hastings College of the Law. Students and faculty from UC Hastings and other San Francisco law schools attended the event.

Following the roundtable, Ms. Guo held an informal chat in Mandarin with interested students and faculty.

"Over the past two decades, Ms. Guo has worked tirelessly to advance public interest law and women's rights in China in the face of significant political and legal obstacles," Professor Keith Hand.  "The environment for public interest lawyers in China has become increasingly difficult in recent years, and her work is more important than ever. We were honored that Ms. Guo made UC Hastings the first stop on a speaking tour that will take her to leading law schools across the United States. She truly inspired her audience!"

This was the second event in the East Asian Lecture Series. The inaugural event featured Professor Zen'ichi Shishido of Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, a leading international scholar on Japanese corporate law, who gave a lecture September 11 at UC Hastings entitled, “Reverse Engineering SOX vs. J-SOX.”

ABRIDGED BIOGRAPHY OF MS. GUO JIANMEI

Ms. Guo has made it her life’s work to become a pioneering non-government organization (NGO) practitioner and an influential public interest lawyer.  After graduating from Beijing University in 1983, Ms. Guo served at the Ministry of Justice, the All China Women’s Federation, and the All China Lawyers Association, where she devoted herself to the protection of women’s rights and interests.  During this period, Ms. Guo traveled around the country to gain a better understanding of the situation for women in China.

In 1995, after participating in the 4th World Women’s Conference in Beijing, Ms. Guo established the Center for Women’s Law Studies and Legal Services of Peking University, China’s first legal aid clinic dedicated to providing legal aid to women. Ms. Guo also founded the NGOs Beijing Zhongze Women’s Legal Counseling and Service Center and Women’s Watch-China, a public policy and resource center dedicated to supporting women’s rights groups.

Ms. Guo has used her legal background to help draft laws such as the “Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Women.”  She was a leader in efforts to implement the law.  Ms. Guo was a recipient of the International Women of Courage Award in 2011 and the Simone de Beauvoir Prize for women’s freedom in 2010.

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